The rolling grasslands dotted with spiked hills of northern KwaZulu-Natal are a silent witness to some of the biggest events in the history of South Africa. Holidays centred around the colourful history of the nation just aren't complete without a visit here; where epic battles in wars between the Zulus, Afrikaans and the British were fought - bloody conflicts filled with stories of great bravery and even greater sacrifice.
The Battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal is now a peaceful region, yet visitors on South Africa holidays can still feel the weight of the past in the atmosphere. It is carried through the air in the ruins of forts and small graveyards, in the monuments and museums in historic towns, and, of course, the battlefields themselves - all making sure the past is not forgotten.
A tour of the battlefields can be an enlightening, if sobering, experience for those on South Africa holidays. It will involve stops at several towns and sites that have played a great part in the series of wars fought in the area; beginning with King Shaka's conquests of the rival tribes, to the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879, the First War of Independence in 1880-1881, the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, and the many clashes and conflicts in between.
One of the most important stops on historical South Africa holidays, the capital of Zululand and legislative capital of KwaZulu-Natal, Ulundi, was witness to several epic battles in the Anglo-Zulu War. The British empire suffered its largest defeat here at the hands of King Cetshwayo's Zulu forces, as well as King Shaka's defeat of the Ndwandwe people on Gqokli Hill. Visit the mythical Valley of the Kings, as well as the site of the Battle of Ulundi.
Ladysmith and Surrounding Areas
Ladysmith gained worldwide notice during the four-month (118-day) siege of Boer forces in the crucial stages of the Anglo-Boer war, and is an important stop for history buffs on South Africa holidays. Walk through Elandslaagte Battlefield, where Zulu forces defeated Genera Koch and his men; Wagon Hill, the site of the Devonshire Regiment's historic bayonet charge; and Burgher Monument, Vaalkrans Battlefield, Caesars' Camp and several military cemeteries on site. Also noteworthy is Spioenkop Battlefield, where the bloodiest of five battles was fought in a campaign to relieve Ladysmith during the siege.
Rich in history and natural beauty, this was the site of many battles including the Battle of Talana - the first one in a war between the British and the Boers. Dundee is the place where seven roads meet, making it a natural destination for hiking and trail walking on South Africa holidays. Blood River Battlefield and the Ncome Museum commemorate the Voortrekker-Zulu conflicts, while Isandiwana Battlefield, where 24,000 Zulus defeated the British, Fugitives' Trail, and Rorke's Drift, where 100 British soldiers made a heroic stand repelling 4,000 Zulu warriors, offer us a vivid look into the Anglo-Zulu war.
Other sites to see
Visits to Eshowe, Newcastle, Colenso, Estcourt and Vryhead offer a more complete picture of the history of the area. Still, the tragic and oftentimes bloody reminders of man's clashes with his fellow man are not the only attractions in area; majestic game reserves, great Zulu culture and heritage sites, the remains of Iron Age settlements, plus the workmanship of skilled craftsmen living in the region are also worthwhile reasons for spending time here on South Africa holidays.
Rachel Hill is a Southern Africa Travel specialist, a company specialising in luxury, tailor-made South Africa holidays as well as holidays to other destinations in Southern Africa. Our experienced consultants will help you design your very own luxury South Africa holiday, and will be happy to provide you with a free quote.
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